Wednesday Webhits: How Many Career Goals Can AO Score?

Wednesday Webhits - Can Alex Ovechkin Score 1009 Goals?

This week we look at Alex Ovechkin’s chances of going down as the greatest goal-scorer in NHL history, a break-down of last week’s big Kovalchuk trade, a look at the change in average shift length for today’s players versus those from 10 years ago (with a certain Capital being a rare exception), and busting a few common myths using the Vancouver Canucks as an example.

I had to wrangle these links up quickly, since I forgot what day it was. That’s when happens when you’re snowed in for almost a week without seeing the outside world. At least I had my spreadsheets to keep me busy.

Alex Ovechkin: will he be the all-time goal-scoring leader?

If you project things out about as well as they can go, Ovie might finish with as many as 1,009 goals. Hawerchuk isn’t quite buying that though (nor should he):

“Let’s look at that progression in another way – where Ovechkin’s annual goal total would rank all time at each age: (projections bolded and highlighted in blue)

20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
Rank 4 19 5 8 17 1 1 3 12 7 7 3 2 1 2 2 12 2 1 3 2

So Ovechkin, whose seasonal goal total has ranked an average of 10th at ages 20-24, will post totals in the top three by age in 12 of the next 16 seasons…

I believe that there is presently no significant likelihood that Alex Ovechkin finishes his career with 894 goals.  He needs to display an uncommon level of durability for the next decade, and not just lead the league in goal-scoring, but do so by such a wide margin that he scores as much as Gretzky, Hull or Lemieux did in an era with vastly higher offensive levels.  No player has ever dominated the NHL in that way – even Gretzky’s peak lasted only six years, and by age 27, he was no longer durable, and he was no longer guaranteed to lead the league in scoring.  Clearly 650 goals is not out-of-the-question – just not 900.”

And 650 goals is nothing to sneeze at.

Ilya Kovalchuk Traded To The New Jersey Devils

A nice analysis of the trade between the Thrashers and the Devils. The conclusion seems to be that Atlanta did fine on getting back equal total value, but didn’t get that one big piece that would have made it a win for them.

Shift Length Change since 1997-98

“The NHL has been collecting detailed ice time statistics since the 1997-98 season.  One interesting thing that we can see is a shift in individual shift lengths:


This is the distribution of year-long average shift lengths by player, not the distribution of all shift lengths – the average shift length has dropped 7% over the last decade, from a 50-second average to 46.5 seconds.”

Ovie is actually a bit of an outlier, in that his shift lengths have been up over 65 seconds the last couple years.

Busting Road Myths

Myth No. 1: Teams play worse as a road trip lengthens.

There is no tendency for teams to play worse as a road trip lengthens. Yes, it is true that road teams are less successful than home teams, but that is only exacerbated when a team plays back-to-back games.

On average, road teams have been outscored by 0.3 goals per game this season. But road teams playing for the second night in a row are outscored by 0.55 goals. Luckily for the Canucks, only three of their 16 games are back-to-back.

In addition, over the last four seasons, teams playing in their fourth, fifth or sixth consecutive road game have fared no worse than those playing in their first three games. And oddly enough, teams seem to fare better in the fourth game of a road trip than the third.”

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